Things have been different ever since mom died. Some things are harder. I suppose there are a few choice things that have become a little bit easier, for instance, when your mother passes away unexpectedly, without you getting the chance to say goodbye, the thought of getting rejected by a beautiful girl becomes much less heartbreaking. Or staying an extra hour at work does not seem so life changing. But for the most part, things are not harder or easier, just different in a very indifferent way.
Music is different now. In the past every time I found an exemplary song I would show mom, because she, unlike anyone else I have ever met, truly understood and loved the spirit, art and sound that is music. She would hear a song and then ask me to learn it. “I would much rather hear you play it, Nathaniel; you’re so much better than them.” So I would learn it. And she would love it.
I miss that.
I could go on about other specifics that will never be the same for me, but for the sake of your time and my poor keyboard, it would be safe for you to assume that everything is different. I won’t tell you about how I inherited my love of coffee from her. Or how much I miss spending time at our beach house in Maine; how I can’t see the ocean without thinking of her. I won’t mention how we used to sit in front of our fireplace when I was little and read together, or how I can’t look at a bag of funyuns without feeling a knot in my throat. I won’t talk about any of it because everything, at some point or another brings me back to the thought of my mom. And how she is no longer here.
As odd as it is, these specifics are not the hardest part. Hard, yes. Constant, yes. But, so far, one of the most difficult things to work through is how everyone that asks me about my process speaks in the past tense. As if my grief, pain and confusion was a one and done deal that I conveniently felt and filed within the first three months after her death. I am in no way offended with my well meaning and much loved friends. I realize that this state of mild unaware only comes from the blissful absence of loss and tragedy in their lives. And I will not pretend to be a veteran in this area of life. There are those who have experienced more loss and tragedy than I could ever possibly fathom. But neither will I pretend that I’ve recovered. I still hurt. I still find it hard to get up most mornings. I still have to scavenge every corner of my mind in search of any kind of inspiration. Sometimes conversation just seems insurmountable.
There are many truths that had helped me in this process. Some of which I discovered for myself. Most of which have been shown to me through the loving wisdom of those around me. My friends have shown me that for the most part I did not miss out on anything. My mom was there for all the important years and she “mommed the hell out of me.”
She was the best mother anyone could ask for, not perfect, just phenomenal. She taught her children to be all the best that she was. What she gave us can’t be touched by death. So in that sense, no; I missed nothing. In fact I was blessed more than anyone else I know, save my own siblings.
But despite all that I did not miss out on, I can’t help but think of all the things I am missing. I never got the chance to have mom disapprove of any girlfriends. I missed seeing her face as I walked at ministry school graduation. She will never meet the wife that one day I will have. My children will never know her, and there will be an empty place on the front row at my wedding. I will never travel to Norway with her like we always dreamed of doing. Never again will I get to cook dinner for her. Our road-trip days are over. And dearly will they be missed.
But despite my loss of tomorrows with her, I have 18 good years worth of yesterdays to remember. That, if nothing else, is always a comfort. And there is Hope.
There is always Hope.
I will conquer this. I know it in the deepest part of my soul. Even in my darkest times I can still see the light. So I will let the tears flow until there are none left. I will expose every wound. Only then will they heal; one by one. I will take the emotions as they come, and let each of them run their course. Pain doesn’t seem to hurt as much when you don’t hide it, and it will never leave if you never let it out.
So I let it out.